City of Split – The Magic of Time Travel
City of Split – The Magic of Time Travel
The city of Split, the capital of Dalmatia, is among few cities in the world with such sacral, historical and cultural treasure. Split is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Croatia. Even if this 1700 year old city had only the sea and the sun to offer, but it actually has much more than that, it would be enough to believe its people who stubbornly claim: “This is the most beautiful city in the world”.
We are aware that everyone finds their own land and their city the most beautiful, but before just waving your hand dismissively, take a walk through the monumental Diocletian’s Palace, get lost in the maze of narrow, hidden alleys, smell the ancient history and travel through time. To take this trip, you do not need any tickets, bags or special shoes, just open your heart to the beauty. You will get dizzy at this historical and architectural kaleidoscope, because this city offers all in one – antiquity, Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance…
Let the stone that the palace is made of tells you a story, because it does have plenty of stories to tell. The stone was brought from the quarries in Seget, in the vicinity of Split, and from the island of Brač (it is situated just across Split, only an hour away from the city by ferry). The Brač stone tells its own story – it has been hauled from the Brač quarries since ancient times, and was used to build many world famous buildings, among them being the White House in Washington.
Lay your palm down on this stone, this silent, but still so articulated symbol of Dalmatia, and you will fill the pulse of the history, and you will realize how full of life this stone actually is. So is the palace. Emperor Diocletian had it built in the period between 295 and 305 a.d. When you enter the historic heart of Split, you enter an emperor’s palace! What makes Split so special is the fact that the palace is still inhabited today, it is not just a tacit monument of history, but a colorful, dynamic scenery of a Mediterranean city and of everything that the Mediterranean represents – the unquenchable flame of life, faith, love, and passion. Even UNESCO recognized the beauty and value of the Split cultural heritage and put the old city core with the Diocletian’s Palace on its World Heritage List in 1979.
Right next to the emperor’s square called Peristil, there is a magnificent cathedral, built by reusing materials from the Diocletian’s mausoleum when the palace was turned into a Christian site in the 4th century – which makes it the oldest cathedral in the world. The emperor’s mausoleum was christened as St. Mary’s Church, later the Cathedral of St. Domnius (Katedrala sv. Duje).
When you take a seat on the stairs at the emperor’s square before the bell tower of the St. Domnius Cathedral and take a look up in the sky, you feel, as the legend has it, the old Diocletian had his palace built in the center of the world.
St. Domnius, a Bishop of Salona, a saint, and martyr, is the patron saint of the city of Split. He was a native Syrian, who after his education in Antioch started his missionary work in Salona, the capital of the Roman province Dalmatia. He was tortured and beheaded together with other martyrs in 304 during the period of the persecution of Christians. Nowadays, on his name day on 7 May, a magnificent procession carrying the relics of St. Domnius passes through the city core and finishes with a mass either in the cathedral or in front of it, or even on Riva, the famous Split’s seafront promenade. Besides the altar of St. Domnius, the inside of the cathedral features the altar of St. Anastasius, also a martyr and co-patron of Split. The cathedral is known for its wooden doors portraying 28 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ carved in walnut by the master Andrija Buvina in 1214. Next to the cathedral, a former mausoleum crypt became the crypt of St. Lucia (Kripta sv. Luce), and the Temple of Jupiter situated across the cathedral was turned into a baptistery.
A network of city alleys takes you to the Golden Gate (Zlatna vrata) of the Diocletian’s Palace where you will find a Church of St. Martin (crkva sv. Martina) built in the 6th century during the early Christian era. The church is one of the two narrowest churches in Split (10x1.64 m) and one of the four churches, besides the Church of St. Theodore (crkva sv. Teodora), Church of St. Apollinaris (crkva sv. Apolinara) and Church of St. Juliana (crkva sv. Juliane), which had been built above the four respective palace entrances. However, preserved are only the church of St. Martin and the Church of St. Theodore above the “Iron Gate”.
The Diocletian’s Palace, Diocletian’s Cellars, the cathedral, the churches, the Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque houses, Renaissance houses of noble Split families from the 15th century, museums, squares, a tangled and astonishing coexistence of the antique period and Christianity, the solemnity of the sacral objects and the playful spirit of the Mediterranean… they all make Split what it is, a city that will delight you, impress you, as well as make you laugh and make you wonder.
After you have enjoyed the rich and exciting history of the city core, take a walk to the seafront promenade, and follow the customs of the local people: relax your senses in the sun sipping coffee in one of many cafés. While absorbing the beauty of the scenery, the sea and the islands in front of you, you might probably realize that you have just fallen in love with a city… some say, the most beautiful city in the world.
Our pilgrims if so requested can have a city tour of Split on their way to Medjugorje!